As I mentioned in the Blackhawks Bullets, the theme of the day (week?) is Patrick Kane. Following his historic 400th career NHL goal Sunday night, Kane has got me thinking about what he’s done up to this point in his career and where he could go before he hangs up his skates for good.
As of today, Kane has 400 goals and 656 assists – for a total of 1,056 career NHL points. So to answer the titular question literally, in terms of points, Kane ranks …
• 72nd in NHL history,
• 6th among U.S. born players, and
• 4th among all Blackhawks in franchise history.
He also ranks 6th among active NHL players in career points — trailing only Joe Thornton (1,519), Alex Ovechkin (1,295), Sidney Crosby (1,281), Patrick Marleau (1,192), and Evgeni Malkin (1,088). Since his rookie season (2007-08), Kane ranks third in points behind only Ovechkin (1,097) and Crosby (1,059).
Not too shabby.
Now let’s put some of those numbers in context of franchise history.
Blackhawks All-Time Goals Leaderboard:
1. Bobby Hull: 604
2. Stan Mikita: 541
3. Steve Larmer: 406
4. Patrick Kane: 400
5. Denis Savard: 377
Along these lines, it’s safe to assume Kane will pass Steve Larmer (406) for third on the list of all-time goals for the Blackhawks (… maybe by the end of March). But he’ll need 142 more goals to surpass Stan Mikita (541) for second, and 205 more goals to pass Bobby Hull (604) for the all-time record. Barring injury or something unexpected, Kane would need to average 27.3 goals per year over the next seven and a half NHL seasons to overtake Hull. That would make Kane 39 years old with 22 NHL seasons under his belt. The pace isn’t ridiculous (it’s achievable), but will he have that much longevity?
Blackhawks All-Time Points Leaderboard:
1. Stan Mikita: 1,467
2. Bobby Hull: 1,153
3. Denis Savard: 1,096
4. Patrick Kane: 1,056
5. Steve Larmer: 923
As for points, Kane needs 41 more to surpass Savard for third, 98 more points to pass Hull for second, and 412 points to overtake Stan Mikita as the franchise all-time leader. It’s entirely possible Kane passes Savard by the end of this season, and he’ll very likely surpass Hull for second all-time at some point next year. But to overtake the all-time record from Mikita, Kane would need to average 54.9 points per season over the next seven and a half seasons.
Kane currently ranks ninth as the all-time US-born goal scorer, and could easily move past John Leclair (406) by the end of March and Tony Amonte (416) by the end of this season for seventh on the all-time list. But if he wanted to be the all-time U.S.-born goal scorer, Kane will need 162 more goals to overtake Mike Modano (561).
In terms of points by U.S.-born players, Kane currently ranks sixth overall, with Joe Mullen (1,063) and Keith Tkachuk (1,065) just ahead of him. He trails Modano (1,374) for the all-time record by quite a bit more.
But no matter where he lands when he finally hangs up his skates, Kane is simply adding to an already Hall of Fame worthy resume, which also includes three Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe Trophy, one Hart Trophy, and a Silver Medal with Team USA. And he could very well be on his way to a second Hart Trophy this season as league MVP.
To put it simply, on the ice, Kane is already widely considered one of the best U.S.-born NHL players of all-time. And with plenty of years left in the tank, he’ll likely end his career as the undisputed best American to play the game. But his overall legacy is a little more complicated than that.
He’s no Bobby Hull, but Kane has delivered a checkered off-ice past, ranging from juvenile issues in 2010 (a highly-publicized shirtless limo outing) and in 2012 (an ill-timed Cinco De Mayo celebration), to far more serious issues in 2009 (arrested for allegedly assaulting a cab driver) and in 2015 (allegations of a sexual assault in Buffalo). These things, too, are a necessary part of looking back on Kane’s legacy.
Take from those incidents what you will. The apologies, the dropped charges, the excuses, etc. Whatever the explanation, the slack in the leash held by the broader hockey community has been tight for a very long time. For some, it’s been severed for good.
Kane has worked hard to clean up his reputation, and has emerged in the past season and a half as a leader on and off the ice for the Blackhawks, but that doesn’t erase the past. As a fan, you want to see the players you grew up watching have that sustained success and be players you eventually tell your kids about with high regard. I’m a year younger than Kane, but I still say I “grew up” watching him. I have a sweater of his and a few t-shirts from over the years. I’m a fan. But as you grow up as a fan, you realize these players are humans, and sometimes flawed.
Recently, I was gifted a piece of Bobby Hull Blackhawks memorabilia by a friend who doesn’t know the context of him outside of playing hockey in Chicago. I don’t display it.
I plan on keeping my Kane and Blackhawks regalia for my future kids to see. If they ask, I’ll tell them about one of their Dad’s favorite players of all-time, but it will have to be the full story (age appropriate, of course). On the ice, away from everything else, he might be one of the best to ever do it. But his past will factor into where it places him amongst the all-time greats for the Blackhawks and the NHL when it’s all said and done.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.